- The net median rent in Manhattan was up by 22.8% since November 2020, per a new report.
- Luxury doorman buildings have more than recovered — they're more expensive than they were pre-pandemic.
- It shows that the death of NYC was exaggerated, and higher-income people are moving in.
And just like that, New York City's wealthiest buildings are back — and New Yorkers are once again willing to shell out thousands for their piece of Manhattan.
A November 2021 rent report from Douglas Elliman and Miller Samuel, first reported on by Bloomberg, found that the net median rent in Manhattan increased by a record-breaking 22.8% from last year. That meant that the typical monthly rent, including any pandemic discounts, hit $3,369 in Manhattan November 2021.
It shows that New York City rents are, to some degree, doing what they have done for over a century: Creeping ever higher. It was a trend bucked by a pandemic slump, where New Yorkers suddenly found that they had the opportunity to rent out previously unattainable luxury apartments.
But there's an important distinction in just who's moving en masse: On the whole, even with the record increase year-over-year, median rent is still 3.8% below November 2019. But that trend doesn't hold true for everything. Doorman buildings — long a signifier of New York City affluence — are seeing rents recover and then some.
It's yet another example of how the wealthy are guiding a K-shaped economic recovery, in which they do better than ever and the lower end of the income scale struggles even worse. The booming economy of 2021 has largely dispelled a national version of the K-shape trend, but New York City's middle and working classes have not yet made a full recovery.
A doorman unit will now run you $4,108 in median rent, according to the report — a record increase of 27.2% from last year. Compared to 2019, that's 2.3% higher. In non-doorman buildings, rent is still on the rise — there's been a 10.9% increase from last year — but net effective median rent is still 11.6% under the November 2019 number.
NYC rentals on the rebound
New York City's entire real estate scene had a hot vax summer, fueled by the economic reopening in May and the return of workers as some offices announced reopening plans pre-Delta and pre-Omicron. Properties in Brooklyn began to bounce back first, followed by Manhattan's comeback.
By the end of August, the rental market entered a cutthroat phase more intense than it was before the pandemic and the COVID discount was over. Landlords were raising prices and scrapping discounts to make up for time and money lost during the pandemic's lull, StreetEasy economist Nancy Wu explained to Insider's Taylor Borden.
"You had a lot of pent-up demand from people who either temporarily left or were planning to move to the city at some point and put those plans on hold," he said, citing college graduates as an example. "It's always been a magnet for young adults."
It's also always been a magnet for the wealthy, who fled their apartments for more space upstate and out east when the pandemic first hit. As they trickle back to the city, the ensuing hike in luxury rental prices is helping stimulate New York City's economy after the city served as the epicenter of the coronavirus.
But it also means that the era of having a piece of New York luxury to yourself might be ending as the economy enters a new post-vaccine stage. Doorman buildings, alongside the now-expiring once-in-a-lifetime pandemic leases, might only be available to the average New Yorker through a Nora Ephron essay — not as their home.